Social media exploded upon the release of the interim relatio of the Synod of the Family. Progressives are exulting in the return of the spirit of Vatican II; traditionalists are upset and demanding an immediate halt to debate and unambiguous reaffirmation of the irreformable moral teaching of the Church. Looking at the matter from the outside, however, it seems to me that the exultation and hand-wringing are way premature. It’s just an interim report. It’s not formal, authoritative teaching. The one man who seems to be keeping his head about all of this is Fr Robert Barron.
I wish to compliment the RC bishops for honestly addressing these difficult and complex moral and pastoral questions. They deserve study, reflection, and vigorous debate. Even though parts of the report worry me–it sometimes sounds too much like the inclusive ideology that destroyed the Episcopal Church–the simple fact remains that the pastoral issues will simply not go away.
Of particular interest to me is the how the bishops will deal with the proposal to readmit divorced and remarried Catholics to the Eucharist, after an appropriate period of penance. From my perspective as an Orthodox Christian, this is a no-brainer. Divorce and remarriage is not the unforgivable sin; but that is exactly what permanent exclusion from the Body and Blood of the Lord implies. Nor is a legalistic annulment process the appropriate way to deal with the problem. Not only does it give the appearance that one can buy eucharistic admission, but it is too mired in subjectivity. The RC Church has locked itself into a legalistic understanding of the matrimonial bond, from which it is now struggling to escape without the appearance of a substantive change of doctrine. On this matter, the Latin Church really needs to look to the Eastern Church for guidance.
My prayers are with the Synod bishops. The decisions they make affect all of us.